In most divorces, dividing marital property is a heated and complex process. Emotions run high as each party has a different opinion of what they should be receiving from the settlement. Common property that is divided includes the marital home, cars, and income that was earned throughout the duration of the marriage. Debt is also equitably divided among parties during this time. However, tensions may escalate and the case may be prolonged as the assets become more complex. In cases where one or both of the parties has a high net worth or income, the process of division may be more complicated than usual. This could be because one party is concealing assets or because property and assets are not being correctly assessed in their value.
Valuing Marital Property
Some assets that need to be correctly valued include: pensions and other retirement accounts, domestic and international investments, real estate including vacation homes, rental properties and timeshare properties, and income, savings and debt accrued during the marriage. If you do not have a pre or post-nuptial agreement in place as a guide, each of these assets will be valued and discussed, then divided equitably. Additionally, assets you may not have known can come under consideration in the case are businesses, professional degrees, licenses and even things such as airline miles.
Martial and Non-Marital Assets
Such assets will be considered in court if they were acquired during the time of marriage, were not part of an inheritance and are not protected by any pre or post-nuptial agreements. Professional degrees or licenses may be of significance due to the fact that they can enable you to find a job and earn money more easily than your partner. Things such as airline miles are taken into account in circumstances where one spouse was able to collect miles while the other was taking care of the children or homemaking, enabling the other party to travel for leisure or business.
And in the case of business ownership, the Courts will evaluate the value as well as potential value of the business in dividing the stock investment, or ownership shares. If the business is co-owned between parties, the Court will determine how it is best divided, if that is the outcome the parties seek. In cases that involve such complex assets and specific circumstances, it is necessary to protect your rights by securing effective, efficient, and experienced representation. Then, you can work with your attorney to value your assets and obtain the correct value of your spouse’s assets. This may require hiring experts and/or subpoenaing third parties. Generally, the less commingled your assets are throughout marriage, the easier it will be to separate them during your divorce.
Discovery in the Divorce
The process of discovery, as mandated by Georgia law, will enable you and your lawyer to collect information about your spouse’s finances, assets, and debts. Conversely, your spouse will be afforded the same opportunity. If need be, a deposition will be held in order to get testimony under oath on specific topics of interest. The deposition testimony and discovery material will be used in the hearings to guide the Court’s decision on dividing property.
If you are facing divorce, call us at 770-609-1247 to speak with one our our experienced divorce attorneys.